Just four years into her floral design business, Amy knew it was up to her to make money for her family. Newly divorced, single-mom with three young boys, the financial pressure was on her to make this thing work. She turned to a financial advisor for help…
“It was a disaster. He told me my business was bankrupt and I should shut the doors.”
Back against the wall, Amy’s story is one of perseverance, triumph, and beating the odds. From the brink of bankruptcy to building a 7-figure world renowned floral design business in just ten years, how she turned it all around in today’s interview.
Amy Osaba didn’t set out to be one of the top floral designers in her industry. In fact, she didn’t set out to be in the business of flowers at all!
“I was a professional ballet dancer for many years, but I kind of grew out of it. I got to a point in life where it just felt like there had to be more out there for me.”
With that in mind, Amy made the move back to Atlanta, where she got married, had her three boys, and spent the next few years as a stay-at-home mom. But as her marriage started to struggle, she quickly realized the necessity to start making a little money on her own.
“When you’re the creative one, you sort of always get asked to do creative things. So when someone asked me to do flowers, I just said yes.”
After a few successful designs, Amy started selling at the market. There, she connected with a floral designer who she hoped would be willing to give her a start.
“I said, ‘Hey if you ever need any flowers, give me a call.’ She called the very next day and said, ‘I actually have an event tonight. Would you be able to make it?’ That’s really what gave me my start.”
With no background in business, Amy did what most creative entrepreneurs do at first: made it up as she went!
“I had no idea about pricing, or money, or business, or anything. I had never taken a floral design class or a business class. I just knew that I was good with people, good with flowers, and could be good with sales. And at first, that was how I got by.”
Her approach as she built the business? Saying yes to every job that came her way.
“Looking back, I know I was undercharging, but at the time, it felt like money was finally rolling in. Of course, I didn’t account for my time, my gas, the supplies, or hiring help. I was doing it all myself. Eventually, that will kill your creativity.”
Just as she was building her business, Amy found herself walking through a divorce. That, combined with the economic recession in 2008, left her wondering if she’d ever be able to keep herself, her family, and her business afloat financially.
“Money was coming in during that season, but it felt like it would just go right back out. And then, I was doing everything out of my house surrounded by three little boys. It was a really hard way to begin building a business.”
Armed with the realization that her business may be struggling financially, Amy asked for help.
“This guy looked at my bank statements and said, ‘Well, you’re basically bankrupt and you should quit.’ It just made me feel stupid and defeated.”
Determined to see the business through, she kept working and kept praying for a miracle. Her answer came in the form of a chance encounter with a new employee.
“God plopped Shanna right into my life. I always said I started my business because God knew I was going to need it. And then, God brought Shanna to help me actually sustain and build a life for myself with this business.”
Initially, Amy brought me on to do whatever she needed done. Eventually, I started working with her on the details of her business to nail down a better plan to stay financially stable and growing.
“I just remember crying and feeling hopeless when Shanna first talked to me about a business plan. Thankfully, she was like, ‘There is a way out. We can make a plan.’ She just laid it all out for me and gave me these really attainable goals. She helped me see that if someone can help me figure out the plan, I can do it.”
And that’s exactly what she did! Together, we created a business plan for Amy, going over everything from pricing and overhead to profit and loss. We broke the business down in detail so she could see every aspect of where her money was going.
“Until you really break it down, you don’t realize how much extra money you’re spending on stuff that could be going into your pocket. Now, whenever I’m figuring out budgets for anything in the business, I have these budget breakdowns to help me make sure every cent is going to the right place.”
Since then, Amy’s grown as both an artist and a business owner. Her work has taken her from HGTV and Martha Stewart to Home Depot and Goop, to name a few! Not only has she found success, she’s also found the confidence to grow her brand and make the money she now knows she’s worth.
“I still do the same things I did when I started the business, but now, I charge a higher design fee. I know that I’m worth it, and I’ve learned to be okay with saying that. It’s okay to make a profit. It’s okay to make money. It’s okay to come to the table and know your value. When you do, a client believes in that value, too. I want to be more than a starving artist, and once I knew my numbers, I could be.”
Now, Amy makes it a habit to dig into the financials of her business. Doing so has helped guide her toward making major money decisions, like closing up her studio space and working out of her home instead. Subtle shifts like that have not only helped her make more profit, they’ve helped reinforce her confidence to know the numbers behind her work.
“Whatever kind of business you have, money does equal freedom in a sense. So the more you know about your numbers, the more freedom you’ll feel to grow the business as you can. It will enable you to live the life you want.”
To hear the rest of the story and what Amy is up to now, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.
A self-taught designer, you could say that flowers found Amy rather than the other way around. After a successful career as a professional ballet dancer, Amy’s innate sense of movement, grace and grand vision translated seamlessly to the magical world of florals and design. At first glance, her signature work evokes a sense of loose, wild abandon while her keen eye and desire for precision have cemented her reputation as one of the South’s most sought-after event designers. Clients, colleagues, and friends alike admire Amy for her balanced approach to art and life. Amy believes in the power of having fun and strong females to make the world go round.
Amy has been recognized as one of the country’s top floral and event designers. Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides Magazine, HGTV, Vogue, Domino, Architectural Digest and many other publications. She has collaborated with renowned brands including The Home Depot, La Croix, and Goop, to name a few.
November 10, 2022